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August 7, 2004

Lleyton Hewitt


THE MODERATOR: Lleyton Hewitt is in the finals for the second time here, his first ATP Masters Series finals in 2004. He has a 3-1 record against Andy Roddick and a 4-3 record against Andre Agassi. Open it up for questions.

Q. When is the last time you played this well?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I've had matches this year I think where I've played as well as this. Yeah, I'm just, I guess, putting it together. I like this surface here, and being able to string matches like this together day in day out, especially against the three named opponents that, you know, probably had from the second round through to the quarterfinals as well.

Q. What are you the most satisfied about in your own game?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, I think I'm serving well. Yesterday I didn't feel like I served great but, you know, my second serve held up extremely well against Marat. Today I felt like my first serve came back together and I served well out there. Didn't give him a lot of opportunities on my service games, to really get into the games at all. I thought Tommy actually served a lot better than when I played him at the French Open today. And I was able to get into his service games, especially after I got that first break. I felt like every game from then on I had a bit of a chance. So I was obviously happy with my returning and being consistent out there as well.

Q. Can you remember another tournament where you've only lost one service game going into a final? You've only lost one.

LLEYTON HEWITT: You know, I'd say at Queen's one year I probably have, but I'm not 100 percent sure. But I went through pretty comfortably one year.

Q. You've made at least the quarters in seven of your last eight tournaments. Tell me about developing some consistency. Is that what you're recognizing in your game?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. Well, it's all come on different surfaces, too, so, you know, that's a huge positive for me. I think the clay court season this year, I played pretty much all the big tournaments and went out there and, yeah, felt like I played pretty good in most of my whole clay court season. Obviously, the grass court season, you know, losing to Andy in Queen's and then Roger in Wimbledon. So, yeah, I haven't had bad losses. I've been able to really, you know, build it up from there. Obviously, I like the hard court season. Last week I felt pretty good going into Toronto even though I hadn't played for, you know, three weeks after Wimbledon. But then again, you know, I lost to Santoro in an awkward match.

Q. You said something a year ago here about you weren't targeting getting back to No. 1. When you start to look at your goals, what's the next thing? Do you start to think about that now, do you think about Slams or what?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, just Slams. Nothing's changed for No. 1. You know, as I said all week when I get asked, you know, I'm not going to go out there and play, you know, every week and run myself into the ground just to try and jump one or two spots in the ranking. It doesn't interest me at all. I'm going to prepare as well as I can for all four majors, you know, even though at the moment the French Open's probably the least high chance, I guess, out of the four. You know, I put the other three up there, you know, pretty equal I guess for me and my chances at those majors. But, you know, I'm going to prepare as well as possible for all four of those.

Q. Do you feel there is a time, maybe last year or this year, at any stage where your eagerness to win dropped a little bit?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. I don't -- not eagerness to win, no. You know, I think, you know, I was still very competitive. Definitely haven't lost that at any stage, I don't think for a moment. I've always wanted to win and be very competitive out there every time.

Q. Given the way you reclaimed your consistency this year, can you think about how long you'll be able to maintain this as a career or how much longevity you'll have?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Maybe next week, I don't know (smiling). Oh, mate, I've got no idea. Have to wait and see.

Q. You have a winning record against both Andy and Andre. In practicality, does that give you anything when you go out there tomorrow no matter who it is?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really, no. You know, Andy's obviously full of confidence at the moment. You know, he loves playing these tournaments, this American swing now. Defending champion. And, you know, it's not going to be an easy match for him tonight against Andre, though. For the first time in a while, Andre's pretty much got nothing to lose. I think everyone's probably expecting Andy to win. And Andre, he loves big matches, and he loves playing -- he's a showman out there as well. So I think he likes playing the center stage night matches. It's going to be interesting. But I haven't played Andre for a couple years now either, so...

Q. Why don't you care about being No. 1? Is it because you've already done it or is it something, you know...Why?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, if you get No. 1, it's awesome. There's no doubt about that. But I've been No. 1 for a long time and, you know, at the end of the day, if you win Slams, you'll get No. 1. You don't have to worry about -- Roger Federer is not worried about chasing No. 1. He gets it because he's won two majors in the one year. If you put yourself in a position and, you know, you win the US Open, the Australian Open, then you're going to be in the Top 3 in the world regardless.

Q. Patrick Rafter made a comment that he was worried about you as far as the long-term, burnout, with you being such an emotional player. What do you think? You're almost talking like you don't see the need to play every tournament every week. Are you starting to think in terms of the big picture rather than playing every week and maybe burning out?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Nothing's ever changed for me. I've never played every week. You know, I think being from Australia has probably helped that as well. You know, I like to go home now and then, and it's not possible for me to play week in and week out like some of the Europeans and, you know, some of the Americans can, I guess, with tournament schedules and that. So for me, it doesn't really interest me that much.

Q. How did you react to that comment, though?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I didn't know it.

Q. Now that you're hearing it now, he's concerned that you're such an emotional player, it's hard to keep that throughout your career.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah, well, I guess I've been doing it since I was 16 on the pro tour. So, you know, as I say, you know, it depends a lot on a lot of things, not just how emotional you are. A lot depends on injuries and how much luck you have as well.

Q. After you became No. 1, didn't you cut back your schedule a little bit? Are you still trying to keep a reasonable number of tournaments instead of playing every week?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Well, nothing's really changed since I first came on the tour. I haven't -- I've cut back, you know. I had the chicken pox there for a few weeks straight after I got No. 1 so, you know, obviously I couldn't do much about that. Take a couple of months off. You know, last year at the end of the year I took a couple of months off to focus on the Davis Cup final. You know, just been different places where I just felt like, you know, the best thing for me and my tennis and what my priorities are -- like last year at the end of the year my priorities weren't to win Madrid or Paris, it was to win the Davis Cup final for Australia. The best way for me to do that was to stay home and practice on grass. My schedule depends on what my priorities are at the time and I guess how my body's feeling at the time as well.

Q. When you go into a match like today, do you know how well you can play, or does it take you a couple of games before you realize you're really on? Did you feel like, "I really feel great today, I can beat this guy"? Or did it take you a couple games?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I felt good going into the match, I guess just on the way I've been hitting the ball both in practice and in my matches throughout this week. And, yeah, but I got a lot of respect for Tommy and his game. You know, when you start out, we're both holding serve pretty easily the first six or seven games. And I was just really trying to clean my service games up and wait for my opportunity, you know, to get on his service game. He made an error or two, and I got into the game at 15-All, and then I really just tried to capitalize on that right at that point at 4-3 in the first set.

Q. What would you say the main reason is for you playing so well at the moment? Is there anything, freshness?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. As I said, you know, I've -- I don't know. I feel like I've been playing pretty good tennis for the last few months, you know, for a while now. Yeah, so I don't think it's just freshness after having a couple weeks off after Wimbledon. At Wimbledon I felt like I was playing as well as I am here. I don't think there's been a huge difference just in the last couple weeks.

Q. Not to rush things along, what are you doing between now and the US Open? You're not going to the Olympics.

LLEYTON HEWITT: No, I'm having a week off then Washington then a week off so...

Q. Does the presence of Kim in the stands help a little bit or it doesn't matter?

LLEYTON HEWITT: It's always nice, but I don't think it has a huge influence on how I'm playing out there. You know, it's great to have, you know, support around me. And, you know, the more people that I'm close to around me, the better off I play.

Q. Your parents are not here this year?


Q. You touched on Andy and Andre a little bit. Can you talk about some of the matches you've had with them. I think Andy won the last one against you. It's been a little while since you played Andre.

LLEYTON HEWITT: Yeah. Andy and I have always had pretty tough matches, I guess. We played a couple of times when he first got on the tour. I was fortunate enough to get those. The last one at Queen's, you know, I had an opportunity, I was up an early break, served for the first set and ended up losing it. Just played one loose service game really. You know, serving for the match, I was serving for the first set in that match. Andre, I haven't played for a couple of years. We've always had tight battles. Last time I played him I think was the US Open semifinal, and lost that one in four sets. That was a tough match. I felt like I had opportunities to go into the fifth set in that match. You know, two weeks before that I beat him here in the quarterfinals. So, yeah, we've always had tough battles. And, you know, depending on who I'm going to play tomorrow it's going to be no different.

Q. You're playing so well the last few months. Is there something you can pinpoint as to why your game has picked up?

LLEYTON HEWITT: Not really. You know, I just... I'm not sure. You know, at the start of the year I was playing extremely well, too. You know, the whole Australian summer I played extremely well right through. And, you know, the end of last year, my two Davis Cup matches, the semi and the final, I beat Federer and Ferrero both in five sets. Wasn't hitting the ball too badly then either.

Q. What do you think winning a Slam would mean to you being it's been a couple years? Would that change your confidence, your outlook on things, to do that again?

LLEYTON HEWITT: I'm not sure. You know, it's always, you know, a great feeling any time you do well in Slams, in particular win them. I don't think it would change, you know, when I won a Slam or not. It would be, you know, a great thing to happen, you know, any time - whichever out of the four Slams it would be.

End of FastScripts….

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